By Beau Seegmiller
Justin has run for many years and, like many runners, has found a great deal of enjoyment from it. As we visited it became clear to me that, from his first run through today, many of his most memorable and peak runs have involved friends.
Justin started running his senior year in high school. He had a friend on the cross country team who kept saying, “You should come out and run!”
“Finally, my senior year he got to me, and I decided to do it.” Justin was so excited when he ran his first whole mile without stopping that he told his friend, “Dude! I ran a mile!” His friend’s response: “Okay, now do two more.” And Justin did just that. He was fast enough to be on the varsity team and saw big improvement that year. “It seemed like in every race I would go a minute faster.” That pestering friend introduced Justin to the joy of tasting the fruits of consistent training.
Once in college, Justin fell off of running and didn’t start again until he graduated and went into graduate school. Running on his own in Michigan winters he didn’t have or know about technical clothing. “I was that guy out there wearing sweatpants and a hoodie.” He was running enough to be in shape to run an “accidental” half-marathon though. “I took an ATV trail and ran to the end and back.” When he looked at the map later he realized he had basically run to the next town and had run around 14 miles without water or gels. “It was a mistake…It was a good run. I look back on that run very fondly.” He eventually fell off running until he moved to Boise to take a job after earning his graduate degree.
New to the area, Justin realized he needed to meet some people and make some friends. A friend recommended meetup.com and that is where he discovered the Boise Area Runners and thought, “I always wanted to get back into running.” He went to his first run and met John Stieha. They ran together about a mile and a half out and back. “I was dying the whole time,” Justin recalls. “John stuck with me and I was hooked.” That was back in 2013 and Justin has been running with the BAR ever since as well as volunteering as the group’s treasurer.
It was here in Boise that Justin got back into racing for the first time since high school. One of his most memorable races was the Run4Luv half marathon a couple of years ago. “I ran that race with Samantha Allen. I hadn’t planned on getting a PR (personal record) that day. I was just out to do it.” Sam had been running a larger training run and included the half marathon as part of her training. She had already run seven miles. “She paced me for that race. I was so dead, but she had so much good encouragement throughout the whole thing…I just remember crossing that finish line and being like, ‘I did it!’” Justin enjoyed setting that personal record and rediscovering the power a positive friend can have on running performance.
Relay races have also provided Justin with some incredible memories. The Wasatch Back Relay (in the Ragnar Series) stands out in particular. “Seeing everybody running. We had two teams and we were leapfrogging the other van and they were leapfrogging us. It was pretty fun…I think there is something special about being crammed in a van with five other people for a day and a half…Everybody just totally reeks at the end…and nobody cares.” Justin also enjoyed participating in the Ragnar Trail Series at Zions in Southern Utah. There runners stay at a base camp and run different trail routes. “Between your runs there is so much stuff you can do.” The Sawtooth relay is also a favorite. Anytime friends and running get together, Justin is eager to participate.
At the moment Justin is facing the bane of all runners: running injury. “It really takes a lot of wind out of your sails.” The challenge of this ankle injury keeps him from planning things out because he doesn’t know if he will be able to do it. In spite of this, he keeps active with climbing and stays connected with the BAR so he will be able to create more memories and set new PR’s running with friends.
See you out on a run!